I went to Mark Pendleton's memorial service on Saturday. I don't know if I went as a cyclist or a new friend. I suppose the decision to support the family in the funeral home over the decision to ride in the memorial ride answers that question. Fact is, I hadn't even ridden with Mark yet, despite hours we spent talking bikes and racing. Mark was the foreman electrician on the installation of the new solar panels and off-grid electrical system on my house. His work was very good and, as I've learned since, typically perfectionistic. He worked on my house the day he was taken from us.
After the memorial service I drove up the road, parked, changed into my own cycling gear and went for my own personal memorial ride. I rode up the climb of McEwen road and then down to the site of his death. There I stood on the side of the road for a few minutes. I don't tend to make ceremony of my praying but I did there on the solemn road with no traffic. I hope there's a reason for the loss of this enthusiastic, kind man. I prayed that there be some sort of grand design behind the way he was killed. I think the tendency is to make people greater after their passing but Mark really was a sincerely nice guy who would not hesitate to encourage or do something that would surprise me with his ability to put away his pride for the good of the job as a whole. He was a guy I really considered "buena gente." We shared quite a few laughs over the weeks he worked at my house and all my memories of him are either working hard or smiling and laughing.
I'm not sure why I'm blogging this. It feels strange. Grief is a strange personal thing and I've been searching deep inside. I think the combination of having a new friend taken away and seeing someone with whom I related to so much as a father, worker and cyclist struck down has just been difficult. I'm just sad.
And I'm angry. Very angry. I'm angry that someone did this. I'm angry to share a world with people so heartless. I'm angry at Mark for trying to squeeze in a ride so close to dark -even though I've done the same damn dangerous and stupid thing myself too many times to count. I'm angry at myself for leaving dark feelings in the air at home despite my best intentions.
Probably the most important thing to do from this is try to learn and maybe honor the person who's lost by bettering ourselves or appreciating what we do have. I'm trying.